Resection of the bulk of a tumour often cannot eliminate all cancer cells, due to their infiltration into the surrounding healthy tissue. This may lead to recurrence of the tumour at a later time. We use a reaction-diffusion equation based model of tumour growth to investigate how the invasion front is delayed by resection, and how this depends on the density and behaviour of the remaining cancer cells. We show that the delay time is highly sensitive to qualitative details of the proliferation dynamics of the cancer cell population. The typically assumed logistic type proliferation leads to unrealistic results, predicting immediate recurrence. We find that in glioblastoma cell cultures the cell proliferation rate is an increasing function of the density at small cell densities. Our analysis suggests that cooperative behaviour of cancer cells, analogous to the Allee effect in ecology, can play a critical role in determining the time until tumour recurrence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modelling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Computational Theory and Mathematics